Now, that Putin had recognized Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states, I keep hearing that ‘if NATO hadn’t integrated the former socialist states in the Eastern Europe, Russia wouldn’t have occupied Crimea nor encouraged the ‘freedom fighters’ in Luhansk and Donetsk’.

NATO, and UE, are not perfect. Far from it.
Yet the former USSR had been even less perfect.

What drove me to this conclusion?
Well, both NATO and the EU are thriving. People and countries flock to join in. The very present conflict in and around Ukraine had been sparked by Putin’s ‘unhappiness’ with the Ukrainian people insisting in joining both NATO and the EU.
Meanwhile, the USSR is no longer with us. Had collapsed, under its own weight, some 30 years ago.

The second difference between these supranational entities – NATO and the EU on one side and USSR on the other, is the ‘small’ matter of how a member got to join the club.

In NATO’s case – valid also for the EU, a prospective member state has to ask for it first and then wait to be accepted.
The USSR had been organized under the ‘invitation only’ principle. If you were invited, you had to join. Regardless…

CSI, the Community of ‘Independent’ States, is organized under the same principle!

Btw 1.
Did I mention that the USSR had crumbled under its own weight?
By allowing self serving callous political operators to grab too much power?
Too much power for their own selves as well for their country’s well being?

Could we attribute the demise of the USSR on the fact that the bolsheviks were ‘house broken’ into ‘toeing the line’ while here, in the West, some people still dare to speak up their minds?

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., a Trump critic who he is targeting for defeat this fall, responded Tuesday: “Former President Trump’s adulation of Putin today — including calling him a ‘genius’ — aids our enemies. Trump’s interests don’t seem to align with the interests of the United States of America.”

Btw 2.